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American UnemploymentPast, Present, and Future$
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Frank Stricker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043154

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043154.001.0001

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Discipline for the Unemployed; Laissez-Faire for Business (1873–1920)

Discipline for the Unemployed; Laissez-Faire for Business (1873–1920)

Chapter:
(p.15) Chapter 1 Discipline for the Unemployed; Laissez-Faire for Business (1873–1920)
Source:
American Unemployment
Author(s):

Frank Stricker

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252043154.003.0002

There was virtually no federal spending to counteract five major depressions or substantial unemployment in between. Unemployed people received almost no public or private assistance, and they were the target of nasty stereotypes. This chapter analyzes those who promoted negative views, including classical economists who claimed that unregulated markets tended to produce full employment, and charity organization leaders like Josephine Shaw Lowell who believed that poor people needed to be disciplined. The chapter also discusses defenders of the working class, including economist John Commons and reformer Jacob Coxey, who wanted public works for the unemployed. Over time more policy-makers gained a compassionate and scientific comprehension of unemployment, but federal policy in 1920 was not very different from what it had been in 1880.

Keywords:   classical economists, John Commons, Jacob Coxey, Josephine Shaw Lowell, depressions, laissez-faire, charity organization

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